Brad Arthur hailed Parramatta’s halves pairing Chris Sandow and Corey Norman after the duo helped mastermind the Eels’ first win over Newcastle, in eight attempts, on Sunday.
The Eels trailed 12-0 early in the game but struck back to seal a 28-22 win with Sandow and Norman having a hand in all five of their side’s tries.
Norman was instrumental in the build-up to both John Folau’s first-half four-pointers and Sandow set up Bureta Faraimo with a perfect grubber-kick that took a wicked bounce over the head of Knights centre Joey Leilua to give the Eels the lead in the second period.
“They were good, very good, they managed the game well, but they got lots of good help around them,” Arthur said.
With Kieran Foran coming to the club in 2016 there has been speculation about Norman’s future and Arthur refused to say what his long-term plans are for the former Brisbane playmaker who can also play at fullback.
Arthur abandoned his experiment of playing Will Hopoate at fullback after two poor recent displays with Reece Robinson filling the custodian role – one he will also fill against Brisbane next Saturday.
“Long term he (Norman) needs to aim up again for us next week at the Broncos,” Arthur said.
“Hopa needed to do what was best for the team which was to help stiffen up our right-side defence.
“We had good talkers around Chrissy .. he’s been carrying the ball strong for us and although we were a bit rusty it’s a new combination we’re working on.”
Newcastle coach Rick Stone vowed to wield the axe following a third underwhelming display in as many weeks from his players.
Halfback Tyrone Roberts could be in the firing line after being outplayed by Sandow and failing to build on his side’s early advantage with the wind behind their backs.
“We can’t complain, we had every chance to win the game and we need to improve our composure under pressure,” Stone said.
“The bottom line is we can’t make the same basic errors every week and call yourself an NRL player.
“Fifteen or 16 every game … you can’t make dumb yardage errors and expect to win games in the NRL.
“It’s hard enough to win as it is.”
Stone also said it was still probably too early for a return to action for Beau Scott who is still recovering from an ankle injury.